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  1. How GB is HELPING me with Chronic Knee Pain I have struggled with chronic knee pain for over a year. I don’t have a definite diagnosis. I am making this post because I want to share with others how radically helpful the use of Gymnastic Bodies exercises have been for me. Just in a few weeks, pain has radically reduced and I have a much greater range of motion. Ironically, I have put off doing this course for ages, partly because of the trouble I have been having with my knee. I am glad that I have finally bit the bullet, because the results so far have been almost magical. Firstly, I want to say that the knee can go wrong in a host of ways, and what helps one person and one condition, may well not help another. I’ve had recommendations thrown my way which have been the opposite of helpful. But with me, and with whatever I’ve got, certain things have been helpful, and I want to share this experience with people. Briefly, I'll explain my own condition, and then I'll get onto the gymnastic bodies exercises that have helped me! I’ve experienced chronic knee pain for about 15 months (although I have had some good periods in this time, when I thought it was all over). But in the bad periods I have had pain walking, and pain cycling (which I have had to stop), and have lived in fear of stairs, steps, and kerbs, and, well, sloping surfaces. Getting in and out of Ford Transit vans at work has been agony. Carrying weight (shopping bags, for example) has brought added pain. Squatting (in general life, I mean) assuredly brought pain, unless I put all my weight on the good leg, which I came to do automatically out of habit. I’ve seen three physiotherapists and one orthopaedic surgeon. Their diagnoses differ. Here is one physio’s findings at a time when the knee was actually pretty good, although her testing of my knee had me squealing : “In prone he had pain on full flexion with tibial internal rotation, this pain reduced on tibial external rotation. Meniscal testing was mildly uncomfortable only. All other ligaments were sound.” My first physiotherapist found irritation in the patella-femoral joint and of the medial meniscus. I saw an orthopaedic surgeon recently and he ordered an MRI, and this indicated a possible horizontal meniscal tear (which was unexpected, as the possibility of a tear had previously been played down.) But that is not definite either. He’d actually have to go in and look to confirm yes or no. He did say that if it were a tear it couldn’t be stitched together, and the procedure they offer is pulling the surfaces of the shear apart and then roughening them up with the intent of helping them stick together by friction! (I find this alarming, and I don’t want to hastily do anything that is irreversible). A week or so before my consultation with the surgeon where we discussed the MRI results and the treatment options, I had started the GB work, and already my knee had radically improved, and my symptoms were minor. He agreed that carrying on with the rehab exercises was a good idea, and said that he wouldn’t want to operate without symptoms. And also, if I do go ahead with an op, it is best to have the knee in as best condition as possible going in, as the aids in recovery and healing. So that’s the situation now. I am carrying on with a rehab program that includes GB exercises, and my knee is much better that it has been in a long, long while, and I will see the surgeon in a couple of weeks to re-assess, and perhaps decide on an exploratory op. I have had pain or discomfort getting in and out of Ford Transit vans at work for years, but there was an incident one and a half years ago where my knee got suddenly worse. It was the day after doing some barbell squats, I suddenly had pain in my knee that wouldn’t go. (That’s the last time I did barbell squats by the way!). I had been going to adult gymnastics classes two or three times a week, and suddenly things were awkward and difficult. In their stretching routine they do a hamstring stretch where you sit on one folded knee and stretch the other leg out and lean over it to stretch. This had not been a problem before, but suddenly it was agony sitting on my left knee. It was a total no go! Well enough of the pain and problems, I want to tell you WHAT HAS HELPED! The help I got from physiotherapy made me think that GYMNASTIC BODIES EXERCISES would also help my knee. The first thing that suggested to me that GB exercises would be helpful was the help the physio’s own mobilisations gave my knee (where the physio manipulates the knee to improve range of motion). Secondly the exercises and stretches physios gave me to do, suggested to me that further exercises which further pushed mobility would help me yet more. Physiotherapists taught me to do lunges and wall-squats-with -a-ball, and these took me from being painful with only a slight bend of the knee, to being able to do full crouches without pain. Stretches really helped (once I’d mastered the basic skills of stretching, at least!). One physio showed me the prone quads stretch, which was very helpful. I still had pain on kneeling, and so I began to practise kneeling whilst relaxing the knee (on a nice soft gymnastics mat!). This helped, and I turned this into a mobilisation, starting with my weight forward (where it was easiest), and then gradually shifting my weight back (putting a greater stretch and pressure on the knee) whilst continuing to order the knee to relax. I made clear progress between sessions, with pain reducing and range increasing each time. So then I added shifting the weight of my torso around in circles, gently approaching the range of pain, and relaxing the muscles as I did so. Again, this clearly helped, as coming back to the next session, the pain had almost vanished. And then I added tilting the knees over to the mobilisation (like skiing whilst kneeling) and this helped too. ALL THIS REDUCED MY PAIN AND DISCOMFORT IN GENERAL LIFE. [Later, when the GB stretch courses debuted, I was amused to see that kneeling is one of the stretches]. All these experiences made me think that if I approached the GYMNASTIC BODIES LEG AND KNEE EXERCISES in the same way (gradually increasing the range of motion, whilst relaxing the pain away) that I might be able to do the GB exercises and gain real benefit from them as well. It turned out that I was right about this! I have approached all these GB leg exercises as rehabilitation, not as a strength conditioning program. I am not following a program of reps and sets. I am doing what I can reasonably think will help my condition, and I am doing low reps, going only so far as I sensibly dare, and gradually increasing range and control. I skipped deck squats as they were way too kinetic for my purposes, although I can now do them (which is awesome) thanks to the progress my other exercises have given me. I don’t go by numbers, I go moment by moment and use my head, and take stock of the feedback my body is giving me. I was attracted to trying TWISTING SQUATS, because I knew that they were something my knee would have BIG issues with (I couldn’t sit cross-legged without pain, let alone stand up cross-legged!), as I thought, well that’s where I can really make gains! But how could I make it possible for me to do it? Doing them from a step stool proved possible, and yes I felt some pain doing them, but also it felt like it was doing me some real good doing them, and the extraordinary thing was, that when I walked away from doing that first session of twisting squats from a stool, my knee was instantly “better”. I should have had some discomfort walking (as at that stage I normally did have discomfort walking), but walking away from doing those twisting squats that was all gone, and my knee was fine! That was an extraordinary experience for me, which made me think “Hey! There is something really valuable here for me!” I did have some delayed pain and discomfort later, that night and over the next few days, so I did not return to doing the twisting squats until a week had passed. And then, when I got back to them, I was thrilled to find they were easier, and I was doing them with remarkably less pain. And so it has continued. Yesterday I did them practically pain free, and with my knee completely fine afterwards, and I am thinking now of working on reducing the stool height. Also, during this period I have worked on COSSACK SQUATS. These are, again, something my knee was clearly going to have issues with, especially going right down on the calf at the bottom of the squat. But going real slow and gentle, session by session, the pain has become vanishing, and my movement deeper, AND IN GENERAL LIFE MY KNEE HAS BECOME BETTER AND BETTER!! When I came to try INSIDE SQUATS, I could do them just like that, which was a thrill. So I am working simultaneously with all these exercises, gently, at low reps, and it has done me wonders. I have no doubt that I will gradually build up the number of reps, and I will eventually be able to get to “mastery” and be able to tackle and complete the rest of the GB legs course. At the same time I am regularly tackling the rest of Foundation One, which is of course helping my all-round condition! And many of these exercises too have a direct effect on my leg functioning. The improvement in hip flexibility with SWIVEL HIPS for example, has been remarkable, and an improved hip function directly helps knee function. And I am now starting on the Stretch courses too, and working on the flexibility elements of Handstand. I am so thrilled about the improvement in my knee. I didn’t think it was possible. I had to stop doing gymnastics classes (which I totally love) over a year ago, and felt I would never be able to do it again, which devastated me. Now I think, I will get back to do what I love, but I am in no hurry. I will complete Foundation before I return. And I will surprise a few people I think with the good condition that I will be in then! Perhaps I will have exploratory surgery sometime soon, or perhaps my knee will be so much improved it will not be deemed appropriate. We shall see. It’s entirely possible that there is more than one thing wrong my knee, and that the exercises are helping the ligament and muscle and coordination side, and the cartilage is damaged all the same. However that may be, if I do have surgery, I will be in a much better condition going in, and will have a much better chance of a good recovery. So THANK YOU to COACH SOMMER and the GYMNASTIC BODIES TEAM for bringing these exercises to the public, and helping me solve my chronic knee pain! THANK YOU!!

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